Critics of the European Union often argue that it operates better in the sunshine than the rain.
In other words, there is solidarity among member states when things are going well but not so much in tough times.
There is a certain truth to all of this, as we in Ireland well know.
At the height of the financial crisis the EU states worst affected, like Greece, Italy and Ireland, were coerced, largely at Germany’s behest, into implementing draconian and, in Ireland’s case, unnecessarily harsh austerity measures.
An EU technocratic elite all but turned Greece into a Third World country, causing untold suffering and deprivation and ignoring not just the economic but the social consequences of imposed austerity.
It was only when these measures were found to be counter-productive that they were eased.
When Covid-19 started spreading rapidly in Italy, the country appealed for help via the Emergency Response Coordination Centre, a special European crisis mechanism.
Not a single EU state responded.
Fearful of its own shortages, Germany initially banned the export of medical masks and other protective gear, stopping trucks at the Swiss border.
Contrast that with the help given by China to Italy, sending plane loads of medicines, intensive care unit equipment and even their own most experienced doctors to help it cope.
Cuba and Russia has also offered to assist, which makes the treatment of Italy within the EU all the more shameful.